Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Cubans find wide backing for a single currency

Cubans find wide backing for a single currency

Released : Friday, January 25, 2008 4:33 PM

Havana, Jan 25 (EFE).- An opposition group representing residents of
Cuba's rural areas said Friday that they have wide backing for their
campaign to end the use of two parallel currencies on the
communist-ruled island.

The head of the group known as Flamur, Maura Iset Gonzalez Jurquet, told
reporters Friday that the organization took a survey of 7,825 people
nationwide and found that 99 percent "want a single currency in Cuba."

"If you don't have CUC (Cuban convertible peso), you can't buy basic
necessities like soap, cooking oil and other things. What we're asking
is that Cubans should be able to go into any establishment in this
country with what they're paid and buy what they need without it
mattering whether they have Cuban pesos or CUC," she said.

Cuba currently uses both the ordinary peso, worth less than 4 cents, and
the CUC, which is equivalent to $1.08. Salaries are paid in ordinary pesos.

Flamur members recall that last Nov. 21 they delivered to parliament
10,800 signatures on petitions demanding a single currency.

"We're against the double currency that represents economic and
touristic apartheid, and that's why we launched this campaign that has
had good results as far as the people are concerned - they show interest
and see us as kind of hope," survey organizer Katia Martin Veliz said.

"We keep waiting for their (parliament's) response, but meanwhile we've
gone on to a second phase, taking a survey by people's age, sex, race
and educational level that has won 95 percent approval," she said.

Among the matters the Cuban government has pending is a solution to the
currency problem.

Acting president Raul Castro told parliament last month that "complex
matters, such as the existence of two currencies and distortions in the
systems of salaries and prices require in-depth study and will be
carried out with the moderation, rigor and responsibility they deserve."

According to Cuban law, citizens can present legislative proposals
before the legislature if they have at least 10,000 signatures.

Cuban families are forced to turn to the black market to supply their
basic needs on a median monthly wage of just 387 pesos (about $18), the
government's ONE statistics office said last year.

Raul Castro acknowledged in July that the average wage "is clearly
insufficient to meet all the needs, so that it has practically ceased to
fulfill the socialist principle that each contribute according to his
abilities and receive according to his needs."

The problem is aggravated, according to Cuban experts, by the use of two
currencies on the island.

Raul, 76, has been in charge since July 31, 2006, when older brother
Fidel Castro "provisionally" handed over power due to a serious
gastrointestinal illness. EFE


HAB01 - LA HABANA (CUBA), 25/01/08 .- Maura Iset González (i) y Katia
Sonia Martín Véliz (d), presidenta y promotora, respectivamente, del
ejecutivo de la disidente Federación Latinoamericana de Mujeres Rurales
(FLAMUR) hablan hoy, 25 de enero de 2008, en una rueda de prensa, en La
Habana (Cuba), para divulgar los resultados de una encuesta de opinión
nacional sobre su campaña denominada "Con la misma moneda", con la que
han demandado ante el Parlamento la circulación de una moneda única en
el país. EFE/Alejandro Ernesto

Copyright 2008 EFE News Services (U.S.) Inc.

EFE News Service / BAS / EFE Ingles
Americas, Caribbean, Latin America, Cuba

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